At this point, it’s fair to say that having a loudly ringing phone is just rude. Whether you’re at the theater, in a coffee shop, or on public transportation, the shrill, piercing tones of your phone’s ring are always unwelcome.
Many of us understand this, and we politely put our phones on vibrate and turn off further annoying sounds like keyboard noises. However, would we all turn up our phones if our ringtones instead were adorable cat videos?
That’s the question that puRRing wants to answer. Vyng—the creators of the new app, which is only available on Android at the moment—believes that the real problem with ringtones is that they’re boring.
“We’re all stuck looking at this dull screen every time our phones ring or vibrate,” Matt Yanofsky, head of marketing for puRRing, told the Daily Dot. “We thought there was an opportunity to replace that vast void with something that you love and makes you happy.”
The videos are synced to your ringer’s volume, so if your phone is on vibrate, the videos will be silent. But if the volume is turned all the way up, everyone on the bus is going to hear your phone meowing.
However, this might actually be a good thing. “We did some user tests and focus-group surveys asking if people would prefer cat videos or nothing at all to accompany their phone calls, and literally everybody chose cat videos,” Yanofsky said.
When the Daily Dot tested the app, it didn’t exactly work as planned.
“My phone still rings, but when people call, it also plays a delightful cat video,” said Lyz Lenz, fellow Daily Dot writer and owner of an Android phone.
Also, not all of the videos are what we traditionally think of as “cat videos”—once, a video of Katy Perry singing “Roar” came up (Yanofsky said that it was just there as a place holder during beta testing). But the cat videos that showed up were legitimately cute and funny, and put a smile on her face.
Vyng is also planning a version with puppy videos for the dog people out there.
Lenz, like many these days, does not enjoy getting phone calls, and she admitted there was something about the cat videos that made the experience better. The initial shock of the ring was mitigated by cute kittens, and yeah, most of us would probably choose to watch a cat video rather than hear a piercing ringtone.
But is it the ring that makes the call dreaded, or the call itself?
Somehow, hearing the phone ring increasingly seems like an invasion of privacy, a demand for time and energy when often a text or email could do. Calls come from family we don’t want to talk to, unknown numbers trying to scam us out of our credit cards, or (when a text won’t do) anyone bearing bad news. Calls feel big and important, and most of the time, that’s scary.
Maybe cats can make it a little better. Or maybe you’re making yourself more vulnerable to the one-two punch of watching a cat video as your brother calls and then hearing him tell you that mom is in the hospital. Either way, the meows and purrs emanating from your phone still probably won’t be welcome on public transportation.